Germany’s Armenian Genocide Recognition Shines Spotlight on President Obama’s Complicity in Erdogan’s Denial Bundestag's Historic Vote Further Isolates Turkey President Obama under a global spotlight to properly reaffirm Armenian Genocide following historic German Bundestag vote recognizing that crime and condemning German complicity
WASHINGTON, DC – The German Bundestag’s historic vote earlier today officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide shines a global spotlight on U.S. President Obama’s continued complicity in Turkey’s denial of this still unpunished crime, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
“The Bundestag’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide – made all the more powerful by its honest reckoning with Germany’s own role in this still unpunished crime – further isolates Turkey, while shining a global spotlight on the Obama Administration as the leading international enabler of Ankara’s campaign of genocide denial,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “There is still time for President Obama to follow Germany’s lead, reject Turkey’s gag-rule, and speak honestly about the Armenian Genocide.”
Prior to his election, President Obama was clear and unequivocal in promising to properly characterize Ottoman Turkey’s murder of over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children between 1915 and 1923 as genocide. In a January 19, 2008, statement he wrote: “The facts are undeniable. An official policy that calls on diplomats to distort the historical facts is an untenable policy. As a senator, I strongly support passage of the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Res.106 and S.Res.106), and as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
President Obama has broken that pledge in annual Armenian Remembrance Day statements issued on or near April 24th, the international day of commemoration of this crime.
The U.S. first recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1951 through a filing which was included in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Report titled: “Reservations to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” The specific reference to the Armenian Genocide appears on page 25 of the ICJ Report: “The Genocide Convention resulted from the inhuman and barbarous practices which prevailed in certain countries prior to and during World War II, when entire religious, racial and national minority groups were threatened with and subjected to deliberate extermination. The practice of genocide has occurred throughout human history. The Roman persecution of the Christians, the Turkish massacres of Armenians, the extermination of millions of Jews and Poles by the Nazis are outstanding examples of the crime of genocide.”
President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed the Armenian Genocide in 1981. The U.S. House of Representatives adopted legislation on the Armenian Genocide in 1975, 1984 and 1996. This year, West Virginia became the 44th U.S. state to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Under Congressional mandate, the US, between 1915 and 1930, embarked on an unprecedented humanitarian campaign providing the equivalent of over $2 billion in today’s dollars to help save Armenian Genocide survivors.
With German affirmation of the crime, over 25 countries have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. The Bundestag vote was nearly unanimous with only one opposed and two abstentions. For over an hour leading up to the historic vote, German parliamentarians spoke in favor of the measure, which affirms the Armenian Genocide and crimes committed against other Christian minorities.
New York Times Editorial
Yes, It’s Genocide
In what has become an almost annual exercise, Turkey has thrown a fit
because someone has spoken the truth about its dark past. This time,
it has pulled its ambassador from Berlin and threatened dire
consequences over a resolution, passed overwhelmingly by the German
Parliament on Thursday, declaring that the century-old massacre of
Ottoman Armenians was a genocide. That is what Turkey does every time
a foreign government dares to challenge its discredited claim that the
Armenians perished in the cruel fog of World War I, and not in a
premeditated attempt to eradicate a people. Germany’s claims to the
contrary, Turkish legislators huffed in a statement, are “based on
biased, distorted and various subjective political motives.”
No, it was a genocide, the first of the 20th century. Historians have
established beyond reasonable doubt that as many as 1.5 million
Armenians were deliberately killed or sent on death marches in 1915-16
by the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, fearful that they and other
Christian minorities could side with Russia in the war.
For Armenians, millions of whom were left scattered around the world,
gaining recognition that the slaughter was a genocide — a deliberate
atrocity, and not collateral damage — has been a long and passionate
national mission, which has resulted in formal recognition by more
than 20 countries.
The Armenians are fully justified in their quest for a historical
reckoning. But the more the world has recognized that, the more
aggressively Turkey has stormed and shouted. A couple of years ago,
when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was still a relatively
broad-minded prime minister, he seemed prepared to take a more
conciliatory stance on the Armenian issue. It never happened, and the
increasingly autocratic Mr. Erdogan warned Germany’s chancellor,
Angela Merkel, in advance that relations with Germany — “bilateral,
diplomatic, economic, trade, political and military” — would be
damaged by the resolution.
Mr. Erdogan’s threats are not without effect. Turkey is a crucial NATO
ally in the upheavals of the Middle East, and especially important to
Germany and the European Union as they try to stem the flow of Syrian
refugees. Ms. Merkel was not present for the vote, though she did not
oppose it. President Obama, who as a candidate in 2008 pledged to
recognize the events of 1915 as a genocide, has failed to do so.
The damage done to Turkey’s relations with the Armenians
and its NATO allies is the responsibility of that large majority
of Turks who refuse to acknowledge a dark blot on their history,
not those who seek to commemorate the tragedy. The Germans,
who have admirably confronted the terrible genocide in their
own history, did the right thing in defying Mr. Erdogan’s threats.
Of Course Germany Refused to Deny the Armenian Genocide
2 June 2016
The Turks always shout and threaten when someone wants to acknowledge the facts of history: that one and a half million Armenian Christians were the victims of Turkish Ottoman genocide in 1915. But did Sultan Erdogan really think that Germany – of all nations – would choose to be a Holocaust denier?
Well, the German parliament has voted by a quite extraordinary majority to declare the Armenian genocide a genocide – which the whole world (except, of course, for the Turks) knows it to be. There were the usual menaces to Germany – a danger to cultural/trade/military “ties” – from the government in Ankara and flocks of vicious e-mails to German MPs, but the parliamentary resolution rubbed in the fact that Ottoman Turkey was an ally of Germany when it perpetrated the atrocities and that Germany itself did not do enough to stop the genocide.
Poor Angela Merkel – who still prays that Sultan Erdogan will stand by her Operation Bribery campaign and keep back the refugees from the EU for a whopping €3bn and an offer of visa free travel in the eurozone – chose to stay absent from the vote. So did her vice-chancellor and her sad foreign minister, who would not have voted for the motion anyway. The greatest irony – utterly ignored by all politicians and journalists – is that the refugees and migrants whom Europe is now so frightened of come, in many cases, from the very towns and deserts in which the Turks committed their acts of horror against the Armenians 101 years ago.
The skulls and bones of Armenians still lie in the sands south of the Turkish border which Isis now controls; and when al-Nusrah captured parts of Deir ez-Zor, they blew up the Armenian cathedral of the Syrian city, took the bones of genocide victims from the vaults and scattered them in the streets. Several German officials who witnessed the original genocide went on to use their ‘expertise’ during the Jewish Holocaust in the Nazi occupied Soviet Union. And Hitler, preparing to invade Poland in 1939, asked his generals: “Who…is today speaking of the annihilation of the Armenians?”
Needless to say, we saw the usual weedy fence-sitting by the news agencies (especially by those with offices in Ankara and Istanbul) who emphasised the Turkish denial of the genocide and the “hotly disputed” nature of an international crime against humanity which – were those same agencies writing of the Jewish genocide – they would rightly never dare to ‘balance’ by quotations from deniers.
France and Russia and at least 18 other nations now accept the Armenian genocide as a fact of history, along with good old Pope Francis – the only major exception being the one whose name we would all guess: the US. An almost annual visit to Washington by a coterie of Turkish generals is usually enough to bring the White House to heel. Doesn’t America need those important air bases in south-eastern Turkey from which the US wages war against Isis (and from which, speak it not, Turkey now wages war against Kurds)?
But thank God, once more, for Germany. Here was one vote for which the country would be certain to snap obediently to attention.
Germany and the Armenian genocide
Name and shame
Deciding what to call a century-old Turkish atrocity
Jun 4th 2016
The past is present
TURKEY considers the Ottoman Empire’s mass murder of well over a million Armenians and other Christians in 1915-17 a tragedy. But “genocide”? Armenia and many historians say it was. Turkey insists it was not—and berates any country, from France to the Vatican, that uses the word. Nonetheless, more than 20 countries have officially recognised the killings as genocide. On June 2nd it was Germany’s turn, when its Bundestag passed a resolution calling the killings “genocide” no fewer than four times.
That vote could not have come at a worse time for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. She is the main architect of a deal reached in March between Turkey and the European Union, under which Turkey promised to take back refugees who cross to the Greek islands; in return, the EU will pay Turkey €6 billion ($6.7 billion) in aid, allow Turks to enter without visas and revive talks to accept Turkey as a member state one day. Mrs Merkel, more than any other EU leader, needed this deal: she wants an orderly and “European” solution to the refugee crisis, rather than brute border closings by individual member states.
But Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, clearly interpreted Mrs Merkel’s efforts as weakness. Since the deal he has pressed ahead in his quest to become an autocrat, rejecting European criticisms with threats to scupper the refugee deal and let hundreds of thousands of refugees make their way to Greece again. This has exposed Mrs Merkel to criticism in Germany that she has sold out to a dictator. Even members of her own coalition accuse her of kow-towing. Voters share the misgivings. In a poll in April, 68% opposed Turkish membership of the EU, and 79% said that Turkey “cannot be trusted”.
Some see the souring of the relationship as retribution for Mrs Merkel’s past diplomatic mistakes. She “showed zero point zero interest in Turkey until she rediscovered it in the refugee crisis”, says Cem Özdemir, a son of Turkish immigrants and co-leader of the Green Party who is also the driving force behind the genocide resolution. In 2007 Mrs Merkel, along with other European leaders, in effect slammed the door shut for Turkey’s ambitions to join the EU. At that time Mr Erdogan, then prime minister, was still claiming to modernise Turkey and bring it into line with EU norms on civil liberties. Stung by Mrs Merkel’s rejection, Mr Erdogan turned against the West and decided to become a neo-Ottoman sultan instead, thinks Joschka Fischer, a former foreign minister.
That psychology explains much of the recent German-Turkish antics. Mr Erdogan went ballistic in May after a German comedian ridiculed him (see article ). An orchestra in Dresden has been performing a series of concerts called “Aghet”, Armenian for “catastrophe” (referring to the genocide). The European Commission gave the project €200,000; after Turkish protests, the commission removed advertisements for “Aghet” from its website. Many Germans are enraged that Turkey tries to muzzle free speech abroad.
Turkey will respond to the Bundestag’s resolution with its usual sound and fury. In late May, three groups in parliament, including Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, condemned the draft as a “distortion of historical facts”. Turkey withdrew its ambassadors to Austria, Luxembourg, and the Vatican last year after similar pronouncements about the 1915 killings. Mr Erdogan has warned of a deterioration in ties with Berlin, albeit without mentioning the refugee deal.
Mr Özdemir originally meant to put the genocide resolution to a vote on April 24, 2015, the centenary of its start. Anxious to avoid provoking Turkey, Mrs Merkel kept delaying, he says, even though the new timing looks even worse. This spring Mr Özdemir pushed ahead again. The resolution is necessary to acknowledge Germany’s complicity in the genocide as the Ottoman Empire’s main ally at the time, he says. As for Turkey, he thinks, if it had dealt honestly with its past and its minorities, it might already be an EU member.
Letter to the Times
4 June 2016
Your editorial, "Genocide Denial" (June 3), is based on the Armenian
narrative. disregarding contested historical claims and the most
crucial legal aspect. Turkey does not dispute the immense suffering
of the Armenians , along with all constituent communities of the
Ottoman Empire, during the First World War. However, 'genocide'
is a very specific legaL term that can only be assessed by a competent
court, not by random decisions taken by parliaments on the basis of
I am dismayed by the references in the editorial. First. documents
attributed by the historian Aram Andonian to Talat Pasha are proved
to be 'forgeries' by many scholars including the Brisih historian
Andrew Mango. Second, the US ambassador Henry Morgenthau's
main motivation was to overcome the opposition to the war in his
home country. His war-time propaganda against Turkey was written
by his two Armenian secretaries (including Aram Andonian). His
efforts "to make the Turks the worst being on earth" were protested
about even by the Associated Press correspondent in Istanbul, as
shown by the distinguished American historian Heath Lowry.
Of course, Germany is free to express "their nation's remorse for
genocidal barbarism in the last century". However, as stipulated
by the recent judgement of the European Court of Human Rights
(Prince v Switzerland October 15 2015), no parraleles can be drawn
between the Holocaust and the events of 1915.
Turkish ambassador to the UK
Harvard University Press
June 3 2016
Germany, Turkey, and the Armenian Genocide
In a nearly unanimous vote of the German Parliament yesterday , lawmakers resolved to declare the 1915 killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a genocide. In doing so, the Germans join eleven other European Union member countries who’ve recognized the Ottoman campaign as genocidal, while leaving behind the semantic reticence of the United States under President Obama.
The Turkish government—which vehemently denies the charge of genocide—denounced the vote in advance, warning that it would have a negative impact on relations between Turkey and Germany, nations that have become increasingly interdependent in the effort to address the current migration crisis. And indeed, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recalled his country’s ambassador to Germany in the hours after the resolution passed.
The Germans, though, describe the resolution as a movement to acknowledge their own complicity in the mass killing of Armenians, rather than to condemn modern Turkey for the actions of the Ottoman Empire. Citing the nation’s ongoing effort to accept its “special historical responsibility” and move beyond its own dark past, the measure concedes the indirect German involvement stemming from the Kaiser’s World War I alliance with the Ottomans.
It bears noting here, too, that the Armenian Genocide casts a longer shadow on the German past, as historian Stefan Ihrig has shown. In Justifying Genocide , Ihrig writes that the Armenian Genocide “was and is of towering importance for German history,” and argues that the Nazis found in the Ottomans a model answer to their own Jewish question. Ihrig shows in the book that German society had wide and public discussions about the Ottoman killing of Armenians , and he maps the racialization at work there onto nationalist German anti-Semitism.
From the book:
There can be no doubt that the Armenian Genocide held a crucial position in the broader Nazi worldview. However, it did not exert its power on the Nazis and within the Third Reich so much through direct discussions of the Armenians and their fate during World War I as through a discussion of what came next: the New Turkey. The depiction and appraisal of the state created by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk during and in the aftermath of the Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923), the New Turkey, by Nazis and German nationalists must also be viewed as a discussion and an appraisal of a “postgenocide” country, as it was exactly in this fashion that it was understood. In the Nazi vision of the New Turkey, this meant a state that had, on a grand scale, “solved” its minority question, in a “final” manner. And in these discourses the New Turkey, the resulting new national body, emerges as a kind of “postgenocidal wonderland.”
This German preoccupation extended through Hitler’s own fascination with modern Turkey’s founder, the subject of Ihrig’s Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination . Ihrig has been careful to deny that there are “easy and automatic casual connections from one genocide to the next,” but these histories illustrate what he calls “the importance and the pitfalls of how we come to terms with the past.” And, as reaffirmed by the controversy surrounding this week’s resolution, they also illustrate that, in Ihrig’s words, “we are far from done with struggling to understand the tragic 20th century.”